11 Tips to Prevent Dry Winter Skin

Dry skin can flake, itch, crack, and even bleed. To help relieve dry skin, dermatologists offer these tips.


1. Moisturize right after washing

Any time you wash your face, hands, or body, you strip your skin of its natural oils. Since these oils help to lock in moisture, it’s vital to replace them. That’s why it’s important to use a moisturizer any time you wash your skin, especially in winter.

As a helpful reminder, try stocking a bottle of moisturizer next to your sink and keep a travel-size moisturizer with you when you’re on the go.

Moisturizers that work particularly well for dry winter skin include:

  • CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion. Developed by dermatologists, this moisturizer includes three essential ceramides and hyaluronic acid to hydrate your skin and protect your skin’s moisture barrier.
  • Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cream. Formulated with glacial glycoprotein and olive-derived squalane, this lightweight facial moisturizer is specifically formulated to help your skin withstand cold, dry conditions.
  • Nivea Soft Moisturizing Creme. This nourishing hand and body cream contains both vitamin E and jojoba oil. Its lightweight formula allows it to absorb quickly into your skin.
  • 2. Apply sunscreen daily

    Given the shorter winter days and less sunlight, it can be tempting to cut sunscreen out of your morning routine — but think again. Even in winter, harmful UV light can still stress your skin’s moisture barrier, which is vital for maintaining skin health and hydration.

    Try adding a layer of sunscreen each morning after you’ve applied a moisturizer.

    The American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends using sunscreen with at least SPF 30.

    Why does dry skin happen in the winter?

    Moisture in your skin is retained by a layer called the stratum corneum. This outer wall holds water in and keeps chemicals, germs, and allergens out. Dr. Waldman compares the stratum corneum to a protective brick wall: the skin cells (keratinocytes) are the bricks, and they are held together by many different proteins (such as filaggrin) and fats (such as ceramides). The proteins and fats create the mortar of the barrier. In the winter, when the humidity drops, water more easily escapes out of this barrier through evaporation, leading to dry skin.

    What are some risk factors for dry skin?

    Risk factors for dry skin may include:

  • Older age
  • Specific health conditions, such as eczema or food allergies
  • Frequent hand washing, showers, baths, and swimming
  • Exposure to harsh soaps and chemicals
  • 1. Seek a Specialist

    If you go to your local drugstore, youll be hard put to find a salesperson who can give you good advice. Thats why going to an esthetician or dermatologist even once is a good investment. Such a specialist can analyze your skin type, troubleshoot your current skin care regimen, and give you advice on the skin care products you should be using.

    But that doesnt mean youll be stuck buying high-end products. “Inexpensive products work just as well as high-end ones,” says David Voron, MD, a dermatologist in Arcadia, Calif. “In fact, the extra price you pay for the expensive stuff is often just for packaging and marketing. Whats most important is how your skin responds to the product — and how you like its feel, not how much money you paid for it.”

    Simple changes can soothe dry skin

    Following the same skin care routine year-round may not work so well when the humidity drops. Without a change in your skin care, dry air can make fine lines and wrinkles more noticeable. Dry, itchy skin can flake, crack, and even bleed.

    To help heal dry skin and prevent its return, dermatologists recommend the following.

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